This historic silent film shows operational tests of the Interstate TDR-1 Torpedo Drone in the Pacific in 1944. The Interstate TDR was an early unmanned combat aerial vehicle — referred to at the time as an "assault drone" — developed by the Interstate Aircraft and Engineering Corporation during the Second World War for use by the United States Navy. Capable of being armed with bombs or torpedoes, 2000 aircraft were ordered, but only around 200 were built. The type saw some service in the Pacific Theater against the Japanese, but continuing developmental issues affecting the aircraft, along with the success of operations using more conventional weapons, led to the decision being made to cancel the assault drone program in October 1944.
Under the code-name Operation Option, the Navy projected that up to 18 squadrons of assault drones would be formed, with 162 TBF Avenger control aircraft and 1000 assault drones being ordered. However technical difficulties in the development of the TDR-1, combined with a continued low priority given to the project, saw the contract modified with the order reduced to only around 300 aircraft. A single TDR-1 was tested by the U.S. Army Air Forces as the XBQ-4, however no production contract resulted from this testing.
In 1944, under the control of the Special Air Task Force (SATFOR), the TDR-1 was deployed operationally to the South Pacific for operations against the Japanese. TDR-1 aircraft equipped a single mixed squadron (Special Air Task Group 1) along with TBM Avenger control aircraft, and the first operational mission took place on September 27, conducting bombing operations against Japanese ships. Despite this success, the assault drone program had already been canceled after the production of 189 TDR-1 aircraft, due to a combination of continued technical problems, the aircraft failing to live up to expectations, and the fact that more conventional weaponry was proving adequate for the defeat of Japan. The final mission was flown on October 27, with 50 drones having been expended on operations, 31 aircraft successfully striking their targets, without loss to the pilots of STAG-1.
Following the war, some TDR-1s were converted for operation as private sportsplanes.
For more information read an article by Nick T Spark featuring interviews with TDR-1 control pilots at Stagone.org or see his interview on History Detectives at http://www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives/investigation/drone-propeller/
This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD and 2k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com